Laurens ten Cate was heartbroken in June of 2020 when he found out that his freshman soccer season at Amherst College had been canceled because of Covid-19. He was left unable to find a public field that was open, let alone a club team to train with. How would he train for the NCAA?
He knew that he had two options:
If you’re anything like Laurens, you know that the first option just wasn’t going to cut it. Laurens refused to put his soccer career on pause, and made the decision to move half way around the world to compete at the International Development Academy (IDA) in Valencia, Spain.
“What I learned in Spain has translated directly to the college game back here in the United States,” said Laurens, as he sat down in his Massachusetts dorm room to reflect on his time at IDA.
When asked what surprised him the most about IDA, Laurens said he was shocked by how different the game was played in the United States compared to Valencia. “One thing that surprised me was just how technically sound everyone was. In the ‘States, the kid who’s faster, bigger, stronger, comes out to be the winner. But in Spain, everyone is so technically sound.”
Laurens added that the environment of the IDA quickly prepared him for the international style of play, which would later prove to create a seamless transition to college. “It was the first time in my life where I was able to play two times a day, hit the gym whenever I wanted to, and have coaches around me 24/7. Having the chance to train with my IDA team in the morning and then again with a Spanish club at night really helped my ability as well as my knowledge of the game. It was truly incredible.”
Those two-a-day sessions and long hours in the weightroom paid off in dividends for Laurens, who spoke to the physical demands of the college game. “The physicality at the college level is completely different than it is when you’re growing up playing soccer in the United States.” He would go on to add that he was thankful to have the IDA serve as a chance to prepare his body for the rigorous lifestyle of an NCAA athlete.
“Every game here is life or death,” said Laurens, referring to the competitive nature of the NCAA. “You lose one game and you drop significantly in the rankings, so the intense competition at IDA really helped me prepare for that.”
The Amherst College men boast a record of twelve wins, two losses, and one tie as they head into November. Seven of their wins came over New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) opponents, which earned them the number 2 slot in the NESCAC playoffs. Laurens has 2 goals and an assist to his name as the Mammoths roll into the postseason.
Improved mental toughness is something Laurens was not expecting to gain out of his time at IDA, but is an attribute he’s extremely thankful for. “It’s not a bad thing to have a bad game, and the coaches at IDA helped me realize that,” said Laurens. “As soon as the shower hits my head after a tough loss, I forget about it. The next day I’m back at practice putting in the work.” He would go on to note that everyone can and should expect to struggle at one point or another, even during an incredible season like the one that the Mammoths are having.
“I can’t speak highly enough about IDA. It’s the best opportunity you can have if you want to put yourself in a position to play at the next level,” Laurens stated. “With all of the resources they have there, it’s just up to you to put in the work.”
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